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Exp Gerontol. 2008 Apr;43(4):247-57. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2007.12.001. Epub 2007 Dec 14.

Nonenzymatic posttranslational protein modifications in ageing.

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ProteoSys AG, Mainz, Germany.


One of the most fundamental molecular aspects of aging is accumulating oxidative damage caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS) as proposed by the free radical theory of aging. These unwanted chemical side products of normal metabolism lead to the formation of altered, less active and potentially toxic species of DNA, RNA, proteins, lipids, and small molecules. Due to gradually accumulating small contributions of irreversible reactions during ageing, uncatalyzed chemical side reactions occur with increasing frequencies and repair functions decline. Eventually key biochemical pathways are impaired by increasingly less efficient cellular stress management. In this review, we describe the chemical nature of nonenzymatic age-related modifications of proteins and provide an overview of related analytical challenges and approaches, with a focus on mass spectrometry. We include the description of a strategy to rapidly exploit the wealth of mass spectrometric information from standard MALDI-TOF peptide fingerprints for the characterisation of age-related oxidative amino acid modifications.

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